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How to find a Magic Millions winner

December 25, 2014

The festive season is upon us, which means that the Magic Millions Sale is just around the corner.  While I personally think that it is one of the weakest Magic Millions catalogues that I have seen, there will be some decent racehorses coming from it.  If history is any guide, it will be the sale that gives us the 2016 Magic Millions 2yo winner.  So what can we make of a few historical facts when looking to shortlist yearlings for 2015.

First up, there is an old breeding theory about the ages of the sire and dam at conception of the foal.  Tesio spoke of his theory of vitality, and although not scientific in base, it relates to an observation that Tesio made of the foals he had seen.  Considering the prowess of Tesio, maybe it should not be totally discarded.  There was also a theory that was well regarded not so long ago that said that you should never send a maiden mare to an unproven stallion.  The reasoning behind it was simple.  If you did not know what type either the mare or stallion produced, and the foal was born with a characteristic that you did not want, then you had no idea whether the characteristic was being contributed by the sire or dam.  But then again, maybe they were the days of breeding plans designed to produce the best possible horses for the track, rather than producing one yearling for this year's sales ring.

Another old theory was that if a mating is worth pursuing, it is worth repeating.  It makes sense in that we know that the genetic lottery will ensure a different result with each mating.  You might be one mating away from your mare producing a champion, but will never know.

To return to the combined age notion, a look at the past ten Magic Millions 2yo winners show that the average age of sire and dam at the conception of the winner was a little over eighteen.  The highest combined age was last year's winner, Unencumbered whose sire and dam had a combined age of twenty four when he was conceived.  The lowest combined age was shared by Real Surreal and Mimi Lebrock with thirteen.  From this we can make our first rule of selection, if we are looking at buying the 2016 winner is

1. The combined age of the sire and dam must be under 25

When looking at the combined age, it obviously makes us wonder about the individual sire and dam.  Looking at the dam, the age of the mare will usually be reflected in the number of foals she has had when producing our past winners.  The latest foal in our past decade of winners was Bradbury's Luck who was the eighth live foal of his dam, Skating.  In contrast, his sire, Redoute's Choice was covering only his second crop when he sired Bradbury's Luck.  The combined age of the two was only nineteen, very close to our average.  The second latest foal was Driefontein who was the seventh foal of Dehere and Follow Gold.  These two had a combined age of twenty two.  Eight of the ten though were the 5th foal or less of the mare.   The average of the foals produced by the dam is 3.6. This gives us rule two.

2.   The yearling should be from the first five foals of the mare.

The flip side to this is how long the stallion has been at stud.  Again our past winners see a definite trend.  Unencumbered bucked a trend last year by being from the eleventh crop of his sire, Testa Rossa.  We also saw Military Rose from the eighth crop of her sire, General Nediym, and Mirror Mirror the sixth foal of her sire, More Than Ready.  At the other end of the scale, Real Surreal is the only winner from a stallion's first crop, but both Bradbury's Luck and Mimi LeBrock were from their sire's second season.  Using these stats, we are close to our third guideline for selection.

3.  A foal should be from the first six crops of a stallion

The next rule goes to opportunity of the stallion.  All of the stallions who have sired a recent Magic Millions winner have covered more than 100 mares in the season of their success.  This is a fairly simple rule, as most sires whose progeny will make the sale will fit this rule.  Nevertheless, we have out 4th rule.

4.  Sires must have covered more than 100 mares in 2012.

The final observation is an interesting one regarding the price of the yearling.  We find only one yearling, Augusta Proud passed in at auction.  She was also the only of our past winners that was offered in Adelaide.  All of the other nine winners came from the January sale at the Gold Coast.  Interestingly, the last four winners have made $75,000 or less at sale.  Prior to that, the previous four winners, excluding Augusta Proud made between $120,000 and $170,000.  Only Bradbury's Luck a decade ago made more than that, selling for $225,000 for his sire, Redoute's Choice.  Therefore, the final rule should be that the yearling must be good value.  Don't get caught up in the hype of the sale that surrounds the high price lots.  Follow our simple rules, and you may be on your way to buying a million dollar winner.

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